Idiom Watch

  • You want what you want when you want it. - This phrase is often used to express sympathy to someone who may or may not be getting what they want at a given time, saying "Yes, it's understandably frustrating that you can't get what you want right now, because you want what you want when you want it and if you get it any later than that you will get what you want, but you will still be perfectly justified in being less satisfied than if you got it when you originally wanted it." Taken as such you can of course use the phrase sincerely or ironically, perhaps the person is in no way justified in their dissatisfaction, or should just suck it up and take what they want when they can get it, but the explicit or inverted meaning of the phrase is clear depending on the sarcasm leveled.

    The sideways meaning that prompted an Idiom Watch however is the implication hidden in a slightly different grammatical interpretation. What if you are the type of person who wants something when they want it, but often no longer wants it any time thereafter? What does this mean about you as a person? That your desires are entirely time-sensitive? Perhaps, which again could be a justifiable position in many cases (someone in need of a heart transplant could justifiably be said to want what they want when they want it). On the other hand, perhaps you are just the kind of person who has fleeting desires, and if you don't get what you want when you want it then the desire flees and you're not much worse for not having gotten something you wanted an hour ago.

    A third option is that you have not fleeting, but rather powerful and fluctuating desires. The desire doesn't run from you when the clock strikes another hour passed, but it looks different than it did an hour ago. Maybe the person offering something to you then has made you a new proposal, the alternative they proposed an hour ago looks more desirable with an hour's thought, or you were just downright wrong in wanting the thing and could only learn it with reflection. Getting what you want when you want it then can even pose a risk of not get what you ultimately want.

    A person who wants what they want when they want it then has three possible outcomes in descending order of satisfaction. If they have strong, temporal desires, they will often be dissapointed by delays. If they have fleeting desires, they can never experience lasting contentment. And if they have powerful but fluctuating desires, they will strongly favor things they wanted then at the expense of better things they could have gotten now.


"Guardians of the Galaxy" -or- Shut The Fuck Up

I loved "Guardians". I wish I could just drop the mic right there, but so many people are saying so many stupid things about this terrific movie that now I feel obligated to bash heads and spit venom. Herewith, a list of the top 10 complaints (rights reserved to add more) about the film and why you should shut the fuck up about them:
  1. "You mean the racoon movie?"
    Yes motherfucker, the movie set in space, in a multi-species galaxy necessitating faster than light travel, implying a vast multiplicity of technology trees and their disparate outcomes including, but not limited to, genetic-cybernetic augmentation of lower life forms. This has poignant implications that they address in the fucking film directly. STFU.
  2. "Why bother casting Bradley Cooper if you aren't going to use him?"
    Motherfucker, why are you making me say this? I'm not the Defend Bradley Cooper Guy! Fine, I'll say it: Bradley Cooper is more than just a pretty face. He's a pretty decent actor, and in this movie he does a damn fine bit of voice acting. He's also the funniest fucking character in a movie starring Chris Pratt, so STFU.
  3. "The guy from Parks and Rec?"
    Yes. The funniest fucking lead actor in America right now. See also "The Lego Movie" and STFU.
  4. "Isn't he just playing Han Solo? This whole thing sounds very Star Wars."
    OMFG STFU! There can be more than one space movie! NOTHING ABOUT THIS FILM IS LIKE STAR WARS!!! Except for the bit between Rocket and Groot, I'll give you that one. But then I'm taking it right back because fuck you, it's also narratively appropriate that Rocket is hyper intelligent enough to understand Groot's inflections and speaks to their deeper bond.
  5. "And why is John C. Reilly in this?"
    Because he's fucking hilarious. Why the fuck not? I'll concede that it's odd that Vin Diesel was so excited to reprise such a limited role as the Iron Giant in tree form, but seriously STFU about the casting, it's all gravy. Karen Gillan is fully legit, Bautista held up his corner, and Michael Rooker is always a pleasure. Hell, even Zoe Saldana was strangely magnetic.
  6. "Fine, then what was up with all the music?"
    It was great, it made narrative sense, it grounded the film (which again, to remind you, was set in space, in a galaxy far the fuck away, but we already covered the Star Wars thing) for the audience, it served well as a character device and plot driver. Next question, or do I need to tell you to STFU again?
  7. "Yeah but they already used that one song in "Reservoir Dogs"."
    Shut the fuck up.
  8. "And that other song was in "Boogie Nights"."
    You are a fucking moron. Do you understand what the use of pop songs in film is for? See answers 6 and 7
  9. "Okay, okay, okay... you're right. But there's too much exposition."
    Now you're just saying "too much exposition" because you always say that about any kind of movie that isn't about two middle class white Americans of opposite sex on present day Earth being physically attracted to each other in a fashionable American city for 30 minutes, having a minor miscommunication, fighting and lying to each other about that miscommunication for 45 minutes, and then reconciling without ever resolving any of their core differences for 15 more. Was that too much exposition?
    Seriously go fuck yourself with this one. The team behind this movie trimmed down 4 decades of acid-fueled, cosmic, comic book crackpottery into 122 minutes of action packed, comedic, movie-going gold, and you're complaining about the 5 minutes they took to set up an easy to follow plotline about an errant warlord gone rogue?
  10. "Yeah, I didn't get that part. Why does Ronan hate the Nova Core? And what's an Infinity Stone? Who's Thanos? Why is that lady pink and that one blue? What's with the big skull? Who put the----"
    ARGH GHGH GHGARF SLKG HJFS:L BHOS{DA HGRBFJS SHUT THE FUCK UP!@#!%! #%$^&$ !%$&#*&!% #*$%&^ @!* #&!@^)$_
    Seriously, can you even hear yourself? Too much exposition or NOT ENOUGH? What the fuck do you want? WHO BEAT THIS MUCH STUPID INTO YOU? SHUT. THE FUCK. UP.


Virtual and Augmented Realities

The old metaphor of the internet as a "place", or cyberspace, comes from science fiction notions of a virtual reality that is separate from the real one. When we enter cyberspace, as imagined through cumbersome means like virtual reality goggles, haptic feedback devices, or more typically and coarsely through keyboard, mice, and computer screens, we leave our current reality and enter into a place other than the one we normally inhabit. This virtual travel comes with costs akin to real world travel: load times, fidelity degradation, jet lag.

By contrast the new metaphor of the mobile internet, the social internet, the distributed internet, is not virtual reality or cyberspace, but rather augmented reality. One need not leave the real world any longer to experience the powerful forces of technology applied to daily life, one need only look down at a mobile device, look through a set of reality enhancing glasses, or connect to one's data streams though an internet ready kiosk. One doesn't go to Facebook, one checks Facebook, checks into a real place with Foursquare, orders a cab with Uber, logs the drinking of a beer with Untappd, Tweets, (Google) Hangs out, and performs all sorts of other tasks and interactions through the use of Internet enabled technologies without ever going "there".

Social technologies like phreaker "party" lines, IRC chat "rooms", and Second-Life virtual "properties" are all places that require a buy-in akin to make believe or fantasy role-playing for the experience to be of value. This transaction cost has been largely eliminated by higher and higher fidelity communication methods (audio, video, collaboration tools), and with it the need for "place-ness" as a crutch to the believeability of the social experience. With today's technology, users feel comfortable being in the place they are in while experiencing a social interaction with someone 2000 miles away. They can see them on the screen, they receive constant SMS updates from them on their phone, they watch them typing into a shared Google Doc. The social interaction is seamless without the need for the metaphor of physical proximity, without the need for place.

This trend away from virtual reality and towards augmented reality is inexorable, even for those of us who are not leading on the cutting edge of technologies that will draw it closer. Technologists that can grab hold of this metaphor now will be better prepared for it's ubiquity in the near term.

For further reading on this topic, pick up literally anything ever written by William Gibson.